Skip to main content


for Olaf Carlson-Wee

You don’t start at zero. You start way below zero. 
You got your gas money, admission, you grab 
a dog and a beer and hit the ATM, which takes 
a not-so-small fee. By the time you set eyes 
on horses you’re down thirty, forty bucks 
and you haven’t even placed a bet. I started coming 
when my wife died. She wouldn’t marry 
a gambler, so after her funeral was my first chance 
in 47 years. Oh, I don’t bet a lot of money. 
If you don’t bet a lot you can’t make a lot, 
but you can stay in it. Some guys hit the Pick 3 
and the Superfecta-—those guys are gods. Not me. 
I just work the chalk and try to climb outta the red. 
To tide me over, my wife used to let me bet 
chocolate chips. We’d watch the races on TV 
and place our bets in bowls. She’d tease me 
for playing it safe. Loosen up! she’d say, 
then she’d put it all on Here Is Happy to win. 
She loved that horse. She’d lose, of course, 
and go make cookies with her losses 
while I worked the chalk. After 47 years of that 
it’s hard to remember I’m betting real money, 
losing real money. When I win I remember, 
I can tell you that much. I’ll never be a god 
but I’m still here. The only god I ever met in person 
was my wife. No bullshit: She hit the Superfecta 
one time. Filled her bowl on four horses 
and named the order. The exact order: 
1, 2, 3, 4. And she won. After we stopped shouting 
and cussing and jumping up and down 
we did a little two-step right there on the living 
room rug, and at the end I even dipped her. 
She had red hair for miles. It was beautiful. 



This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading